Comcast may be forced to join Apple's new pay-TV service

Federal mandates put in place when Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) acquired NBCUniversal in 2011 could force the conglomerate to the bargain table with Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) over the tech giant's upcoming streaming pay-TV service.

A consent decree issued as part of that deal prevents Comcast from intentionally hindering the performance of NBCU in order to benefit its broader cable business. And if Apple is able to carve out deals with "similarly situated" programming conglomerates that also own broadcast networks, then NBCU must make "comparable programming" available to the tech company.

Apple is currently in talks with CBS Corp., the Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox about its new service.

"Apple could use the condition to obtain NBCUniversal programming that is comparable to whatever Apple [acquires] from Fox, Disney, etc," Guggenheim Securities analyst Paul Gallant told investors Tuesday.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that Apple's long-awaited bite at the pay-TV fruit was at hand, but that the Silicon Valley company was not in talks with Comcast.

The Philadelphia-based cable conglomerate reportedly views Apple as a competitor now, and is interested in augmenting its X1 platform, not bolstering said competition.

For more:
- read this Wall Street Journal story
- read this New York Post story

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